Anglo-American Antiphony: The Late Romanticism of Tennyson and Emerson

By Richard E. Brantley | Go to book overview

SEVEN
Set Pieces

Tennyson's belief in "the reality of the unseen world" does not necessarily entail, as Culler thinks it does, the poet's belief in "the unreality of the material universe."1 The continuing importance of sense-imagery in In Memoriam, 95, for example, assures that an empirical as well as evangelical, a hardly partial because not exclusively mystic, experientialism makes for the climactic quality of this important section.

"This lyric," according to Kincaid, "climaxes the comic movement" of In Memoriam with "a vision of absolute assurance, a full realization of a new self, and a concurrent realization of the unity of all creation in love." Here, at last, "irony's tenuous mixture becomes comedy's pure and triumphant assertion of continuity."2 Peltason, calling the section the poet's "fullest vision of the sum of things and the most celebrated account of the experience of transcendence in all of Tennyson's poetry," argues that "the mystical experiences of Tennyson's youth were its model."3

"A kind of waking trance I have frequently had quite up from boyhood," declares Tennyson, "when I have been all alone"; here is Hallam Tennyson's further account of his father's testimony to such mystical experience:

This has generally come upon me thro' repeating my own name two or three times to myself silently, till all at once, as it were out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being, and this not a confused state; but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, the weirdest of the weirdest, utterly beyond words, where death was an almost laughable impossibility, the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction but the only true life.4

-106-

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Anglo-American Antiphony: The Late Romanticism of Tennyson and Emerson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Prelude ix
  • Theme and Variations 1
  • Exposition the First - The Method of in Memoriam 25
  • One - Introit 27
  • Two - Empirical Procedures 33
  • Three - Evangelical Principles 51
  • Four - Philosophical Theology 65
  • Five - Spiritual Sense 90
  • Six - Theodiceal Impulse 97
  • Seven - Set Pieces 106
  • Eight - Language Method 115
  • Nine - Intra-Romantic Relationships 127
  • Exposition the Second - The Method of Emerson's Prose 151
  • Ten - Introit 153
  • Eleven - Perspective-By-Perspective Understanding 160
  • Twelve - Religious Methodology 166
  • Thirteen - Suspenseful Subjectivity 177
  • Fourteen - Experience and Faith 193
  • Fifteen - Roots of Theory 204
  • Sixteen - The Play of Skepticism 211
  • Seventeen - Language Method 236
  • Recapitulation and Cadenza 245
  • Notes 277
  • Works Cited 313
  • Index 337
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